3 Sentence Summary
Gillian McCallister’s Wrong Place, Wrong Time is a thrilling murder mystery with a unique twist of time travel. Jen Brotherhood races against time to prevent her son from committing a murder, uncovering the clues and unraveling the mystery along the way. This book combines the elements of a gripping thriller and a mind-bending time travel adventure, keeping readers hooked from the start.
Summary Read Time: Less than 5 minutes
Actual Book Length: 416
First Published in: 2022
Below is the detailed yet quick Wrong Place Wrong Time summary:
The story unfolds in reverse chronological order, with each chapter representing a different day leading up to the pivotal event. The story begins on “Day Zero”, the day of the stabbing incident involving the protagonist, Todd. From there, the narrative moves backwards in time, with each subsequent chapter titled as “Day Minus One”, “Day Minus Two”, and so on, all the way up to “Day Minus Seven Thousand Two Hundred and Thirty”. This structure allows the author to gradually reveal the circumstances, decisions, and events that led up to the incident on Day Zero.
The story begins on the eve of October 30, 2022. Jen Brotherhood, a divorce lawyer, anxiously awaits her son Todd’s return from a date with his girlfriend, Clio. From her upstairs window, she witnesses a chilling scene – Todd is confronted by a stranger in their driveway and, in a shocking turn of events, Todd stabs the man.
The following morning, Jen wakes up to find that it’s still October 30, and the horrifying incident from the previous night seems to have never occurred. Todd is at home, unarrested, and there’s no sign of any murder. Initially, Jen dismisses the incident as a nightmare, but as she wakes up the next day, she realizes she’s reliving her past in reverse.
As Jen grapples with this strange phenomenon, she seeks the help of a physics professor who introduces her to the concept of time loops. She wakes up each day to a different significant event from her past. That is how she begins to notice clues she had previously overlooked. She chastises herself for her workaholic tendencies and lack of involvement with her family. Her investigation leads her to Todd’s workplace. She realises it is a front for a criminal organization involved in car theft and drug distribution.
Interspersed throughout the novel are chapters about a rookie undercover cop named Ryan Hiles. Set in 2002, these chapters follow Ryan’s journey from a hopeful cop to an undercover agent infiltrating the same crime ring that Jen uncovers. He adopts the name Kelly, after his older brother. His undercover work involves stealing cars, which takes a turn for the worse when he unknowingly steals a car with a baby in the backseat.
As Jen’s journey back in time continues, she stumbles upon unsettling evidence that suggests her husband is leading a double life. Initially, she fears her husband is having an affair. But a discovery of a 20-year-old missing baby poster among her husband’s possessions leads her to a shocking revelation. Her husband is actually Ryan Hiles, a retired police officer who left the force two decades ago. He had been deep undercover, ready to testify against the head of the crime ring, when he met Jen at her father’s law firm where she was interning. The man her son Todd had stabbed was Jones. Jones was just released after serving a 20-year sentence due to Ryan’s testimony.
Jen is shattered when she learns about her late father’s involvement with the crime ring. He had been providing the gang with information about properties where they could steal luxury cars. The revelation that her husband was an undercover cop investigating her father’s ties to organized crime adds to her distress.
In one of her time leaps, Jen intervenes to prevent the car theft involving baby Eve. This action keeps the crime boss out of prison, thereby eliminating the reason for Todd’s act of violence. The crime boss never serves time and thus never seeks revenge against the man who put him behind bars.
When Jen finally returns to the present, she realizes that her husband’s elaborate deception was a protective measure for her and their son. In this new reality, Kelly is Ryan Hiles and remains a police officer. Her son Todd reconnects with his first love, a girl named Eve Green, bringing the story to a satisfying conclusion.
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